All posts by Shawn L. Dowling

Owner of Ace Hi Plumbing, Heating & Air in Loveland, CO.

Furnaces and Boilers: What is best for your house and your wallet.

As the weather gets colder it is time to start thinking about the heating system in your home. Whether you have a boiler or a forced air furnace it is important to know how they work as well as the cost of neglect on these machines.

Lets start with furnaces. Furnaces are the most common form of house heating in the United States as they are cheaper than boilers and relatively cost effective to run. However, just like your car, furnaces do require attention at least a couple of times per month. Replacing your furnace filter is the best way to prevent any major damage occurring inside of the unit. Make sure you understand what size filter it requires as well as how to replace it. If you don’t replace your filter at least once a month in the winter and every 6-7 weeks in the summer (depending on the stress you put onto the furnace), you could damage your furnace which could cost you hundreds if not thousands of dollars to repair.

Now, would it be more cost effective to just replace the furnace as opposed to repairing it? Sometimes this may be the case because the parts of a furnace don’t last forever. And sometimes when you figure out a part is bad and replace that part, another part might go bad right after it. After a while you may end up spending half the cost of a new furnace just to keep the old one alive for maybe another year. Another positive for replacing your furnace as opposed to repairing it is the fact that new furnaces are more energy efficient and safer than the older models. Newer furnaces are also vastly more reliable than older models and should last around 15-20 years. The only con to purchasing a brand new furnace and having somebody install it is the price. Depending on the model and efficiency rating of the furnace that you purchase it can range anywhere from $2,800 to $4,600.

Now lets talk about boilers and some of the advantages and disadvantages they can offer a homeowner. Firstly, boilers last a long time if maintained properly.  On average boilers can last anywhere from 25-30 years. The only difference is that boilers require people with knowledge of hot water heating in order to be maintained and repaired. These machines are much more cost effective to repair, because a new boiler could cost anywhere from 15 to 20 thousand dollars. However, despite their immense upfront cost boilers are much more energy efficient than a furnace and they also make less noise. The heat boilers put out is much more comfortable too.  On the down side, boilers take up quite a bit of space in your basement or crawlspace, as they are very large machines and the plumbing that goes with them also takes up quite a bit of room. This can be negated if you decide to purchase or have a combination boiler which, as the name suggests, combines the boiler and hot water heater into one. This saves lots of space in the room that the boiler is in and cuts down on energy costs. However, because boilers heat your home with hot water they can leak and cause water damage to your home.

Ultimately it is up to the home owner as to what they want to do with their heating system for their house. Whether you want to spend the extra money and have a new system installed or you want to run the risk of repairing and something else going bad, you have that ability. Just remember that repairs aren’t always guaranteed to fix anything and that there could be multiple things wrong with your system. Always remember to change your furnace filters every month or so depending on the time of year, and remember to service your boiler every couple of years to make sure it is running in perfect condition.

 

 

Furnace life expectancy

Furnaces last an average of 15 years with proper maintenance,but boilers can last even up to 30 years with annual inspections and flushing .

One of the greatest investments we make is our home.  We want our surroundings to provide us with a welcoming environment that simultaneously appeals to our sense of style and keeps us comfortable no matter the season.

So we invest in climate control systems to keep us warm in winter and cool in summer .  It is up to us to ensure our systems are kept in good working order .

Most of us are aware of the importance of annual maintenance for furnaces/boilers and air conditioning. A checkup to ensure it is ready for the upcoming season.  It is a good idea to schedule these annual inspections in advance to ensure continued comfort as the seasons change .

Furnaces last an average of 15 years with proper maintenance and above all they will start costing you money once they pass 15 years .  Sometimes replacing the furnace will be less expensive in the long run.

Boilers  can last up to 30 years if they are maintained properly and installed according to manufacture specifications.

It is important to read the installation guide to any appliance.  The bulk of our work is service and maintenance.  We replace when needed .  We often find and correct mistakes technicians have made during installation.  We can not stress how important it is to read and follow the manufacturer’s installation guide to ensure a longer life for the appliance and also comply with warranty requirements.

Annual maintenance and upkeep on energy efficient appliances is a small price to pay to save replacement costs!

Protect your investment with routine inspections.

Boiler repairs -heating Loveland Co

Boilers are becoming more efficient every year.   They all need maintenance and upkeep.

Some boilers have cartridges that need to be oiled.  Over-oiling will damage the circulator . Tankless boilers condensate into a trap .  The trap should be service yearly to avoid boiler shut down of leaking.

The heat exchanger should be cleaned yearly.  A professional should be doing this work . This is not for homeowners to practice on.  You could cause damage to your boiler or you could cause an explosion.

Boilers are a good choice in heating.   I personally like radiant heat because it is quiet, it maintains the temperature in the room making rooms more comfortable .  Boilers last alot longer than forced air furnaces .  Average life span of a boiler is 20-30 years.   That is if you keep it tuned up every year.

Also if you are thinking about purchasing a new boiler system .  You may want to do some research on Weil Mclain and Burnham .   These boilers are the leader in the industry.  In Northern Colorado  they are easier to obtain repair parts for too.

If you live over 6500 feet there are other  upgrades that need to happen.   Like a high altitude kit, propane, whole house water filter and condensate neutralizer.

Plumbing ,Heating and cooling specialist

Keeping your furnace running at it’s peak performance is very important to most homeowners.

  1. Make sure you schedule yearly inspections for your furnace  and air conditioning with a licensed professional.  They have the knowledge and the tools to get the job done right.  They are prompt ,courteous and professional .
  2. Change your furnace filter often .  Change it every 30 days if you have pets.  In Colorado it is so dusty we recommend changing the filter at least every 60 days.  This will help extend the life of the furnace and air conditioning system .
  3. Keep combustible material away from furnace area .  Recommended clearance is 30″ in front of any appliance.  Paint cans or any chemicals will easily catch fire if they are too close to the furnace . Safety is important.
  4. Keep carbon monoxide batteries are fresh and the detector needs to be  within 15 feet of a sleeping area.
  5. Change batteries in your thermostat yearly.  I try to do it when the time change happens.
  6. Save for a new system .  If your system is over 13 years old.  New technology and more efficient units come out every year.  We recommend replacing your furnace when it is over 13 years old .  Otherwise it could start costing you money or leave you without heat on a cold night or weekend when rates are expensive.
  7. We sell Amana and Goodman furnace and air conditioning units.  furnblogpic

hvac tips for home owners

furnace repair is expensive.  So here are some tips to help keep your expenses down and your furnace running efficient.

  1. Replace filters on your furnace often .  When it is running daily on cold days it is taking in all the dirty air and running through the blower motor.  Change the filter at least every 60 days or more often .  When you do remodels or any sort of home improvement the dust enters into the furnace and if the filter is not clean all this dust and dirt will pass into the motor and cause the furnace to shut down on high limit.  Not good.
  2. You should have your furnace and air conditioning inspected yearly. If not inspected your hvac system could shut down on the coldest winter day and you may be without heat for a long period of time .  We do a 15 point inspection.  We check gas pressure .  Amp draws.  We check for carbon monoxide.  We make sure the furnace is safe.  The average life span of a furnace is  10-15 years.  Inspections will help prolong the life of you hvac system .  Neglect shortens the life .   After that time we recommend replacing the furnace  due to part failure and parts wearing out.  The furnace also is not as efficient as it used to be when it was brand new . So an 80% efficient furnace installed 20 years ago is probably now about 50% efficient and is costing you alot more money on your gas bill .
  3. Senior man opening air conditioning filter in ceiling
  4. We recommend having your duct work cleaned every 5-10 years .  This depends on if you have pets and where you live.  If you do replace your furnace your duct work should be cleaned .  It will make the process of changing out the furnace a cleaner job .  Less dust blowing around.
  5. Replace batteries in your thermostat every year.  I recommend you do the battery change out when the time changes .  Programmable thermostats are great.  I recommend leaving the thermostat set at your favorite setting and leaving it. It is easier for the furnace to keep the house at the same temperature.  Instead of trying to bring the house to temperature on a cold day .  This causes alot of stress on the internal parts of the furnace .

Furnace replacement and repair

1)Replacing a furnace is a major expense.  Know the details about the furnace…. such as the quality of the product.  What the blower tonnage is.  Is it sized right for my home.  All these things are important to make your home more comfortable when it is heating or cooling your home .

Did you know that if your duct work is under sized you should really have at least a two speed furnace installed or a variable speed.  The blower will run at a lower speed on a warm day and make the house more comfortable .  Instead of turning on and off at one speed to blast heat into the home.

I have received some calls from homeowners who have installed their own furnaces.  Purchased them off the internet.  I would question if there was ever a problem with the furnace(fire) if insurance would pay a claim . This is something you should discuss with your agent and see if it is covered.  Sometimes it pays to have a licensed professional to change out your furnace or air conditioner due to  liability  .  Permits are required in alot of cities if you change out a furnace.  It also helps with selling the home .  Buyers like to have that guarantee that nothing is wrong with the installation.

amana_goodman_air_conditioner

Fire can catch anyone off guard .  Home fires are unexpected and move through the home fast.  Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors on every floor near every bedroom are a great idea.  Safety first. One exposed wire or improper installation of any gas fired appliance could become a huge mistake .

Guessing or practicing on your own furnace is probably not a good idea.

Hiring a licensed professional who has done the training is a better idea.  It may cost you some money….but isn’t it worth it for your peace of mind and your families safety?

Furnace inspections

It is important for furnace inspections every year.  The main reason is for you and your families safety.

An inspection involves at least 14 checks.

They check your gas pressure, temperature rise, clean flame sensor, check amp draws on the motors and igniters. The most important is they check for carbon monoxide.  This is an odorless gas that can leak out of the furnace heat exchanger when heating.  If it is left unrepaired the gas could make you sick or even kill you.

It is also important to change your furnace filter monthly.(one inch). Four or five inch filters need to be changed every 6 months .  Even if you have air conditioning.

Make sure to keep combustibles ,such as paint, away from the furnace .  Code requirements recommend thirty inches of clearance in front of the furnace and water heater .

Keeping you furnace running efficient is important and getting your car serviced.